The state has spruced up four Staten Island parks to make them accessible to all visitors, all to the tune of $600,000. NY1's Lyndsay Christian filed the following report.
On the first day of fall, Rachel Chernock checked out a new trail at Mount Lorretto Unique Area. Chernock is wheelchair-bound, and for her, exploring the trail was meaningful.
"I'm glad there's going to be an accessible park because not everything is accessible," Chernock said.
Rachel was one of several people who enjoyed the new upgrades to Mount Loretto and three other green spaces on Staten Island Thursday. She is affiliated with the nonprofit Lifestyles for the Disabled. The group has been patiently waiting for this project to be completed.
"We're surrounded by asphalt and our green spaces are precious, so anything we can do to make it available to more people is a good thing," said Steve Zahn, Regional Director of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Some of the enhancements at the sites include accessible trails, a newly resurfaced parking area and a platform built along Mount Loretto’s pond to give all visitors access for viewing and fishing.
Gregory Perosi, who has special needs, can't wait to explore the pond.
"When I was a little boy, I went fishing up in Pennsylvania with my father. I had a big lake and would go out on the boat and go fishing," said Perosi.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation also made improvements to North Mount Loretto State Forest, St. Francis Woods and Lemon Creek, a $600,000 price tag that was funded through Governor Andrew Cuomo's NY Works Program, as part of the NY is Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative.
The ultimate goal, officials say, is to improve recreational opportunities for residents and to boost tourism activities throughout the state, making it hassle-free for all.
"I'm glad we're able to get around to a nice spot and enjoy this view," said Perosi.
"I'm really, really happy," said Chernock.
Rachel's happy to get a taste of the outdoors now without any hassle.